Housing benefits siphoned off to the super rich

Tenants demonstrate against Hammersmith and Fulham council’s plans to demolish the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates to make way for private redevelopment
Tenants demonstrate against Hammersmith and Fulham council’s plans to demolish the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates to make way for private redevelopment

BILLIONS going into fat cats’ wallets and off-shore tax havens from Housing Benefit would be better spent building houses and homes for working people, says the GMB.

A new GMB study, published on 24th February, shows the top twenty company landlords in each of 311 out of 380 councils in the UK that receive housing benefit direct from councils for tenants renting their properties.

Details, where disclosed, for the top twenty landlords ranked by the amounts they received by council are set out below for 311 councils in the UK.

Taxpayers’ cash pays the rent to private landlords for 1.65 million privately owned dwellings in the UK.

This study covers where it is paid direct to company landlords not private individual landlords.

Paying housing benefits to meet housing costs for rented accommodation for tenants on low incomes dates from the 1980s.

The cost has ballooned to £23 billion per year. While over the past 30 years some £411billion of taxpayers’ funds have been spent on housing benefit it is not clear who the ultimate recipients are.

For 30% of tenants entitled to housing benefit the cash is paid direct to landlords.

To establish the identity of these landlords, the GMB and Daily Mirror carried out research at the Land Registry to establish the beneficial owners of properties and Freedom of Information requests were made to councils to establish the amounts paid to them.

The ultimate recipients of housing benefit and amounts were disclosed by councils where the landlords are companies.

The ultimate recipients of housing benefit and amounts were not disclosed where the monies are paid to tenants or where landlords are individuals.

69 councils refused to disclose any information. The GMB said it is inviting local media and politicians to follow up on the study and fill in the gaps.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘This research lifts the lid on the mainly secret payments to landlords who are the real winners from Britain’s welfare system.

‘We see taxpayers’ cash subsidising buy-to-let empires where the money ends up tax free in tax havens.

‘The research shows the rich and powerful sucking up taxpayers’ money through housing benefit.

‘This is made possible by out of control rents and a lack of affordable and council homes that so many hard working people and their families desperately need.

‘This should bring both shame and action from this government to end this exploitation of public money.

‘These billions going into fat cats wallets and off shore tax havens would be better spent building houses and homes for real working people.

‘Shovelling millions of pounds to the likes of castle owning barons, whilst so many either wait for a home or have to pay exorbitant rents, is a public scandal.

‘It is also bad economics for the nation.

‘It is disgraceful that 69 councils refused to reveal the companies they paid huge sums to.’

Some organisations receiving large sums across the country are as follows:

• Jomast Property/John Monk & Co – Over £210,000 in the North East. Owner Stuart Monk equal 554th on the Sunday Times Rich List with wealth estimated at £147m. Developed Hartlepool Marina.

• Stockton Flats – Over £1.7m in total from councils in North East, North West and North Yorkshire.

• European Wellcare Lifestyles Ltd – Part of European Care Group. Parent company Esquire Group Investment (Holdings) Ltd based in the British Virgin Islands as are another five companies within the group. four other group companies are based in Guernsey.

• Grainger Residential Management/PHA Ltd/Grip Nomco 1 & 2 – £1.2m across 16 districts. Part of Grainger PLC with fixed assets of £618m, current assets of £1bn and turnover of £283m. In 2013 they owned 13,353 units with a market value of £1.8bn. They manage 8,216 units with a market value of £953m.

• Associated Property Owners Ltd – £89,000. Directors are Lady Diana Errington, Robin Errington, Anne Errington, David Errington, Stuart Errington and William Saville. Directors of the parent company, Associated Property Holdings Ltd, include Sir Geoffrey Errington (2nd Baronet Errington, of Ness).

• Northwood – National lettings Agency getting over £2.3m nationally.

• Blackshaw Holdings – £442,000. Owner, John Brooksbank, on the Sunday Times Rich list with wealth estimated at £100m.

• Martin & Co – Letting Agents, £3.1m from 20 districts nationally.

• Chatsworth Trust – £10,000.

• LHT Enterprise – £8,800 from Craven. Michael Bannister, owner of Coniston Hall and the Boundary Mill chain.

•Mountview Estates Plc – Duncan Sinclair, 901st on Sunday Times Rich List worth £87m. £300,000 from nine districts.

• Buckminster Trust Estate – Sir Lyonel Tollemache donor to the Tory party. Buckminster is a country estate in Leicestershire. £37,000.

• Compton Estates – Castle Ashby Estate, seat of Lord Northampton, Spencer Compton, 7th Marquess of Northampton. One of Britain’s wealthiest aristocrats, 766th on Sunday Times Rich List with estimated wealth of £103m. £21,000.

• Grimsthorpe & Drummond Castle Trust Ltd – owner of Grimsthorpe Castle is Baroness Jane Willoughby De Eresby, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Ancaster and grand daughter of Nancy Astor.

Inherited Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire and Drummond Castle in Perthshire. £19,000.

• Cecil Estate Family Trust – £17,000.

• Burghley House Pres. Trust Ltd – £9,000.

• Penk Holdings Ltd – Directors Alan and Joanna Monckton of Horsebrook Hall, Stafford (former High Sheriff of Staffordshire) and Piers Monckton of Stretton Hall, Stafford. £12,000.

• ADA Glossop / Glossop Caravans – £1.1m across 15 districts nationally.

• Marquess of Hertford – £15,000 from Stratford. Henry Seymour’s country estate is Ragley Hall in Warwickshire.

• Thorney Bay Park Ltd – £1.45m from Castle Point. Donated £3,000 to the Tories in 2001.

• Cadogan Estates Ltd – Charles G Cadogan, 8th Earl Cadogan, 18th on Sunday Times Rich list (£3,675m) and Tory donor. £116,000.

• Grosvenor Estate Belgravia – Part of Grovenor Group. Fixed assets of £4,272,300,000. Headed by the Duke of Westminster who is in the Sunday Times Rich List as 8th richest person in Britain with wealth estimated at £7.8bn. £243,000.

• Lazari Investments Ltd – Chris Lazari is 101st on the Sunday Times Rich List with wealth estimated at 858m. £200,000.

• Caridon Property – £2.6m across 9 London Boroughs.

• Cowdray Estate/Paddockhurst Estate – £118,000. Viscount Cowdray listed on the Sunday Times Rich List in 224th place with wealth estimated at £400m. The family firm is the Pearson Media Group and the family seat is Cowdray Park in West Sussex.

• Southwick Estates – £39,000 from Winchester. A 7,000 acre private estate which owns nearly all of the village of Southwick. Owned by the Thistlethwayte family.

• Englefield Estate/Gerald Palmer Eling Trust – Owned by Tory MP, Richard Benyon. His family are 713th on the Sunday Times Rich List with wealth of £110m. He is one of the wealthiest MPs in Parliament. The family seat is Englefield House and 20,000 acre Estate in Berkshire. £626,000.

• Yattendon Estates – £195,000 from West Berkshire. Lord Robert Iliffe, 333rd on the Sunday Times Rich List with wealth of £245m. Yattendon is a 9,000 acre estate in West Berkshire.

• Patricroft Investments – £49,000 from Worthing. Company is based in Gibralter.

• Allsop Residential Investment Management Ltd – one of the partners is Timothy Theakston, one of the Theakston Brewery brothers. £137,000 from Brighton & Hove.

• HRH Estates Company – £349,000 from Medway.

• Sir Richard Sutton’s Settled Estates – Sir Richard Sutton, 9th Baronet, 522nd on the Sunday Times Rich List with wealth of £150m. £68,000 from West Berkshire.

• Blackmoor Estate Ltd – £18,000 from East Hampshire. Owned by the Earl and Countess of Selborne. Earl Selborne is a Tory hereditary peer.

• Knepp Castle Estate Office – £15,000 from Horsham. A 3,500 acre Estate in West Sussex owned by Sir Charles Burrell, 10th Baronet. Owner of Knepp Castle.

• Viscount Asquith Estate – £17,000 from Mendip.

• Morden Estates – £14,000 from Purbeck. Owned by Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, Tory MP for South Dorset. Family seat is Charborough House in Dorset.

• Powis Castle Estates – £34,000 from Powys. Owned by John Herbert, 8th Earl of Powis.

• Hawarden Estate – Sir Erskine ‘William’ Gladstone, 7th Baronet, owner of Hawarden Castle in Flintshire. £43,000 from Flintshire.

• Strathmore Estates Holding Ltd – Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, the Queens cousin and owner of Glamis Castle £11,500 from Angus.

• Moray Estates Development Company – Earl of Moray, owner of Darnaway Castle. £10,000 from Moray.

• Argyll Estates – £126,000 from Argyll and Bute. 50,000 acre estate including Inveraray Castle, home to Torquhil Campbell, the Duke of Argyll.

• Wemyss Properties Ltd – Owned by William Wemyss, part of a Scottish business dynasty which includes property, whisky and gin production and energy production. £141,000 from Fife.

• Haddo Estate – £42,000 from Aberdeenshire. Owned by the Marquess and Marchioness of Aberdeen.